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Monday, September 25, 2006

Yahoo says "Mash up or shut up"

Yahoo will open its Sunnyvale, Calif., campus to outside developers in a 24-hour Hack Day next week to see what kinds of applications people can come up with using Yahoo technologies.

About 500 developers are expected to test their mettle in taking a Yahoo software mashup from concept to prototype. Participants will work round-the-clock beginning next Friday afternoon, camping out on the campus lawn while being feted with food, drink and musical entertainment from a mystery act.

Following demonstrations of the applications, awards will be given for the ones deemed the coolest.

Yahoo has held numerous Hack Days for its own employees since December 2005, but this is the first one open to developers from outside the company. The goal is to encourage innovation and bring that start-up feel to the company, says Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product strategy at Yahoo.

In a nod to the irreverent attitude of early hackers famed for applying their own fixes to programs and taking code apart and reassembling it in their own personal way, the mantra of the event is "mash up or shut up."

"It's a punk rock ethic. It wasn't important that you played well, just that you played," he said in an interview with journalists on Friday. "The ethic of 'shut up and do it' resonates with the hacker culture."

Dozens of projects from Yahoo Hack Days have made it into a Yahoo product or service, according to Horowitz.

One that hasn't but tickles Yahoo executives nonetheless involves photocopy machines. Some developers at Sharp created a mashup that allows people to type their zip code into a copier, press a button and get either a digital display or a printout of weather, news or traffic from their geographical area off a Yahoo Web site.

More information about the event is available here.

Posted by Elinor Mills

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